Wednesday, April 04, 2012
Catching up on March 2012: John Carter of Arizona
Short review: I REALLY ENJOYED IT!
Slightly longer review: BUT....
Peter David put it best- Andrew Stanton was sort of in a lose-lose situation.
If he was 100% faithful to the books, then the movie adaptation might have felt extremely dated.
If he updated/reinvented things to compete with all the scifi/fantasy movies that have come after that have already been influenced by the John Carter books- then,loyalists would have felt betrayed.
So--- given that- it's a pretty amazing tightrope that he walked. The movie is very enjoyable.
The script adaptation itself--- it introduces a world that's not going to be all that easy to begin with to relate to (the civil war era) and take us to another world that's not all that easy to relate to, nor is all that magnificent to look at (MOre on that later)... so we're introduced to many characters and many situations but without too much confusion nor exposition. That's a task in itself.
The CAST is amazing. I'd argue that Stanton might have taken a short cut or two by choosing actors in similiar supporting roles in "ROME", but who cares? Well cast is well cast.... particularly the leads.
80 percent of casting John Carter I think has to be the looks. Fortunately, the guy from Friday Night Lights (fantastic show btw) works just fine. He makes a good lead, although I'm not certain how much acting is required of him in parts like this. There wasn't a second I didn't buy him, but...
More amazing casting is Lynn Collins as Dejah Thoris. While she doesn't look exactly like the Dejah Thoris I've seen in the comics, she steals the movie imo- In many ways, the story centers around the relationship between Carter and Thoris (Why the marketing team wasn't fired by Disney is a complete mystery to me) and while I may have had problems with some of Stanton's other choices, Lynn Collins is a powerhouse in her performance as the Princess of Mars. (If you view her interviews, she's VERY different in person from her character).
And-- beyond being a fan of the books...I can't say I'm totally unbiased- for an outsider I'd imagine the movie works, but again, can't say for sure. (One relative didn't believe the film at all, another thought it fun.)
In any case, it certainly deserved a better fate than what Green Lantern got.
But, on the other hand....
Where the hell did the $250 million go, Andrew???? I've seen Arizona deserts! Boo! Hiss!
As a visual medium, I would think that artists would salivate over movies of this kind that are RIPE for eye candy. Where was the eye candy? For years I've heard that John Carter was the movie that George Lucas, John Favreau, Robert Rodriguez wanted to make--- but to be frank, the ultra-campy FLASH GORDON of the 1980s were far more memorable visually!
Or David Lynch's "DUNE" (Forgiving the unfortunate poster taglines, insulting one's experiences or imagination) ;p
Even the horrible Star Wars prequels didn't cost $250 million but had pretty planets! What the hell, Andrew?
(Though truth be told, as a movie, "John Carter" is better actingwise and storywise than all three Star Wars prequels combined, but still--- eye candy opportunity greatly wasted)
Also..... the sad thing is, even with what was chosen--- wasn't photographed in a particularly interesting way as "FLASH GORDON" or "DUNE". Sad because Stanton had all the resources available, (I bought the 'art' book for John Carter as well), but if it's not on the screen, it's not on the screen.
What's there is a really good movie, but why couldn't it have been a visual spectacular at the same time? Oh well.... thankfully, I have Game of Thrones for both content and style (more later)....